A representative from the Cayman Islands led discussion at the inaugural Commonwealth Parliamentarian’s Forum in London on an initiative to consolidate resources and expertise on navigating natural disasters and the impacts of climate change.
Kenneth Bryan, the independent member for George Town Central, called on Commonwealth leaders to support the establishment of a council to monitor the impacts of climate change on its member states and mitigate the effects of future disasters through preparation.
He joined forces with Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Youth delegate Fabian Frizell to spearhead the proposal and received the support of 22 of the 25 countries represented at the conference.
British Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn and several UK government officials also gave their backing, signing the promissory note drawn up by Bryan alongside delegates from St. Lucia, Fiji, Jamaica, Kenya, UK, Cameroon, Zambia, Malawi, Nigeria, Ski Lanka, Ghana, Kiribati, Cayman Islands, Seychelles, India, Gambia, New Zealand, Malta, Canada, Guyana, and Nauru.
The note pledged to lobby leaders to present the proposal at the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April 2018.
Under the proposal, the council would be responsible for collecting data, monitoring and tracking natural disasters and catastrophic events linked to climate change, and raising awareness and preparedness for disasters affecting Commonwealth countries.
Most Commonwealth nations are affected in one way or another by climate-related events, such as hurricanes, rising water levels, tsunamis, ocean acidification, temperature changes and drought.
The Cayman Islands are one of the most vulnerable states to rising sea levels, but there is limited up-to-date data available to understand the short and long term impacts and possible actions that can be taken to mitigate the worst impacts of coastal erosion.
Speaking to Cayman News Service, Bryan said: “In order for us to limit any negative impact, we, the Commonwealth states, need to be ahead of the game in respect to information surrounding climate change.
“There is not enough being done locally to address this issue and as a low-lying country we will be impacted by rising sea levels.
“But I recognise the need for more resources, so I brought up the issue here at the Commonwealth meeting to garner wide support.
“The concept of a council would be beneficial to Cayman as well as the wider Commonwealth.”
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